Tony Pasko from Rock House Methods GEAR411 recently had the chance to sit down with Erik Turner of the band Warrant and Wild West Guitars.
If you’re not familiar with whom Erik Turner is, then you might be with his band. He is a founding member and guitar player for the mega rock band Warrant.
The band formed in 1984 and sold millions of records with their 1989 album “Dirty Rotton Filthy Stinken Rich”, and the bands single “Heaven” went gold, they toured the world played over 250 shows and opened for Motley Crue.
They followed that success up with their second album “Cherry Pie” that also sold millions. On a side note: If you have never seen the Cherry Pie video? You are missing out on one of the best rock videos made. Period!!!!!!!!
Don’t feel bad if you missed seeing them live in 1989, because they are still touring and playing festivals check them out this summer at “Rocklahoma & Rock Gone Wild”, and there are plenty of other dates available. Check them out at: www.warrantrocks.com or their MySpace page.
Now you would think this would be enough for one rock star to handle, and you would be right, if you weren’t talking about Erik Turner. This guy is a true musician and gear fanatic. When he is not playing with Warrant he is the Sales & Marketing Manager for Wild West Guitars.
I had a chance to talk to Erik and find out how he hooked up with Wild West Guitars and why they are the bad ass guitar shop in the land, on sea and on-line.
TJP: How did you get involved with Wild West?
ET: Joey Allen (Warrant’s other guitar player) told me they were looking for someone, and I am a gear freak like most guitar players, so long story short I called them up, met with the owner Mark, and I’ve been with them for the last 7 months or so pimping insane amps and amazing guitars and making guitarded people smile with the killer tone and killer price they just received.
TJP: For those who might not be familiar with Wild West Guitars. Fill me in on what they do?
ET: Wild West Guitars is a premier boutique shop that has been in business for 7 years and our philosophy is about creating a shopping experience like no other. We are a hidden gem located in Riverside, CA. We are everything the big corporate boxes chains aren’t. Quiet, low traffic, high end gear that is usually still in the box or hardly touched in one of our showcase rooms. We probably do 85% our business on the internet and over the phone.
TJP: Is there a store front?
ET: There is an actual store and we are located in an industrial park in California, but we don’t even have a Wild West ‘Guitars’ sign on the building, we do get about 5 people a day walking in on average and trying gear out, shopping or just browsing in shock like they are in a musical museum!
TJP: So it’s not a typical music store set-up.
ET: Not at all, we have show rooms where people can try out products in private, turn up and test out, unlike a traditional music store. We even take it a step further, in the back of the store is the VoodooLounge.org this is a private membership club with a full stage where customers can try the gear out in a live situation. There have been many times that we have set-up full stacks for guys to try out on the stage with there own guitars and effect pedals.
TJP: That’s cool, what else is the lounge used for?
ET: We host private parties with national acts and clinics all the time. For instance we have John5 doing a clinic on Friday May 1st. and Paul Reed Smith & Howard Leese from Heart May 7th. We also have a Jackson clinic June 4th with Chris Cannella. Check out the schedule at: http://www.voodoolounge.org/#shows or join our mailing list for upcoming events.
TJP: Tell me about the staff.
ET: All of us are players, and we are encouraged to play the gear so we can guide our customers to a better tone suited for the style. Bo and Bob are retail warriors who have been in the biz for over a decade and also still go out and gig & record with their bands on weekends. We love this stuff and they are like big brothers to me!
TJP: So the skill level is higher than your usual music store guy.
ET: We try and we listen to the customer first, then offer our opinion on the amps and guitars that would best suit the customers needs. We have an amazing luthier on staff Mark Dickerson that sets up every guitar before it goes out. And I don’t mean he just checks it, he sets it up to your spec. If you use a different gauge string, special intonation, medium low action etc… he will set it up for you at no extra charge, we pick up that cost on every guitar we sell; we are all about going that extra mile for our customers and I think people appreciate that.
TJP: What if you have a customer asks you about a piece of gear you’re not familiar with?
ET: Then I’ll go in the back and play it, and call that customer back with my feedback or I’ll sit there and play the product while I have them on the phone.
TJP: You guys aren’t salesmen; you’re more like personal shoppers?
ET: Yeah kind of, I have over 25 guitars from the 60’s till now and a couple Fender master builds on order for myself, J. Smith & J Cruz. We do whatever it takes to help the customer feel good about their purchase. When you are flipping out some good coin on a boutique guitar or amp you have never played, you want to feel like the guy that is there knows his shit. We get paid a salary, no commission. No high pressure sales here, hopefully just great customer service.
TJP: Tell me about some of the brands you carry. Is it all custom stuff?
ET: Yes and No. Not everything we carry is 4 grand. We carry the Fender Road Worn series guitars, and we carry the new production Charvel’s, as well as Ibanez and PRS guitars. On the flip side we carry Fender Custom Shop Relics, and PRS Private stock, and Suhr custom guitars. We take custom orders for amps all the time, not to mention carry cool boutique amplifiers like, Divided by13, Bogner, Bad Cat, Deizel, Hughes n Kettner, Splawn, Blankenship and we just picked up Diamond amplifiers to name a few.
TJP: So I take it you guys work with these manufacturers pretty close, to make sure your customers custom orders are done right.
ET: Absolutely. We are all about customer service and customer satisfaction. When a customer is spending that kind of money they want to feel that we are looking out for their best interest and they get what they paid for, even if it was the deal of the year!
TJP: Wow, you don’t get that feeling from a lot of on-line dealers these days.
ET: No you don’t, we like to build relationships with our customers.
TJP: What if I get my product and there’s something wrong with it?
ET: We have a 48 hour return policy
TJP: So if I want to order a custom shop strat, who should I ask for?
ET: Me, myself or Irene. I’ll take care of you or anybody that calls or e-mails. We are a team here, so ask for Bo, Bob and the man who really knows all things tone Mark Dickerson (If you can get him on the phone, Bankers hours ha ha!)
TJP: How do we reach you?
ET: E-mail me at: Erik@wildwestguitars.com or by phone at: 951-369-7888
TJP: Erik thanks for all your time and I’m sure you’ll be hearing from a bunch of us here at RockHousemethod.com
ET: Thank you Tony, you have always been a class act to work with and you really know your gear! Please let everyone at RockHouse know they are more than welcome to stop by and say high at WildWestGuitars.com and come out and see Warrant this summer!!!
This is a really cool website and they carry the best brands in the market today. If you are in the market for a new piece of gear, check out Wild West before you go anywhere.
Their staff is knowledgeable and easy to deal with, not to mention that their working relationship with the manufacturers means their stock is the best of the best. You get the feeling right from the start that they have your best interest at heart.
When you buy something from Wild West Guitars, you’ll wonder why you ever went anywhere else. Not to mention that you’ll have bragging rights for days telling your friends that you got your guitar from a full fledged Rock Star. Not to many music stores can offer you that.
Go to: www.wildwestguitars.com and e-mail Erik at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them Tony sent you.
Tony J. Pasko